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As the population diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (ADRD) raises from 5.3 to 12.7 million over the next three decades, this calls for a demand for treatments to address this population (Alzheimer’s Association, 2021; Atchinson & Dirette, 2017). While traditional practice often focuses on symptom management, the inclusion of functional activities alone does not fully address the negative side effects of ADRD (Kok et al., 2013; Lepore et al., 2017; Mayo Clinic, 2019). Both occupational therapy (OT) and reminiscence therapy have been shown to be effective methods to treat the ADRD population separately, but there is limited evidence currently demonstrating the benefits of the combined approach. This study aimed to address this gap by completing a needs assessment and developing a resulting program.

There were three methods to complete the needs assessment which included: (1) a qualitative study with OT practitioners addressing their current perceptions of the use of including reminiscence therapy into traditional OT practice for the ADRD population specifically in skilled nursing facilities (SNF) and long-term care centers (LTC), (2) semi-informal interviews were completed with level II fieldwork students regarding their education when treating this population and the use of the environment in their treatments, and (3) observations and 1:1 interactions were completed at an immersive reminiscence-based adult day program, which aimed to address the viability of the use of the Menorah Park Engagement Scale (MPES; Camp et al., 2015) in clinical OT practice, as well as identify how to utilize and incorporate reminiscence therapy into OT practice.

Themes found during the interviews included limited education for both the OT practitioners and level II fieldwork students with a desire to learn more, the practitioners also identified perceived barriers were largely intrinsic, while supports were intrinsic. The developed program, Creating Meaningful Moments, aims to fill the gap and address the barriers to use in practice identified by the OT practitioners and fieldwork students. The program is available online and will have a presentation developed and disseminated to OT practitioners at SNF and LTC facilities to increase education.

Overall, this approach serves to be another “tool in the toolbox of interventions” for OT practitioners, which can be selected when appropriate for patients with ADRD as a means to promote the therapeutic relationship and engagement in meaningful occupations.

Publication Date



University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences

Medical Subject Headings

Alzheimer Disease, Dementia, Memory, Cognition, Social Participation, Occupational Therapy, Skilled Nursing Facilities, Program Development, Qualitative Research


Geriatric Nursing | Geriatrics | Medicine and Health Sciences | Mental and Social Health | Occupational Therapy


Poster presented at the Spring 2021 Virtual OTD Capstone Symposium at the University of St. Augustine for Health Sciences on April 15, 2021.

Incorporating Reminiscence Therapy into Traditional OT Practice for Adults with ADRD Residing in a SNF/LTC